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Ontario mayor calls for overhaul of 'misleading' COVID-19 hospitalization data


An Ontario mayor is calling on the province to overhaul how it reports pandemic hospitalizations, saying that the COVID-19 data reported daily is "misleading."

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday he has heard from a number of physicians that COVID-19 hospitalization numbers may not necessarily paint an accurate picture of the current situation in the province.

In Ontario, anyone who is being treated in hospital who tests positive for COVID-19 is added to government's count of "patients hospitalized with COVID-19," regardless of whether that’s why they are receiving treatment.

There are currently 726 people in Ontario hospitals testing positive for COVID-19, while 190 are in the ICU. 

While Brown said he can’t speak to COVID-19 hospitalizations in other parts of the province, in Brampton approximately 50 per cent of people in hospital diagnosed with COVID-19 were admitted for another reason.

"They came to the hospital for another procedure and found inadvertently that they had COVID, so no symptoms," Brown said. "So someone might be coming in for a surgery and because we’re testing all patients for COVID they find out that way."

"Then they’re in the provincial reported data as hospitalization with COVID, but they’re not being hospitalized because of COVID. I would suggest it's a bit misleading."

Brown said that while Brampton is currently seeing “massive community spread” of COVID-19, it is not seeing a large number of severe cases. 

"At Brampton Civic, we’ve seen our ICU numbers go down during Omicron from four to two," Brown said.

Brown said despite the low hospitalization numbers, there are human resource shortages in the health-care system. He said health-care workers having to quarantine is putting staffing pressure on the system.

Premier Doug Ford’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Communications Travis Kann wrote on Twitter Wednesday afternoon the province is now trying to change how it reports hospitalization data.

"Many have pointed out importance of distinguishing between patients in hospital or ICU for COVID19 versus those admitted for other reasons but test positive," Kann wrote.

"We've asked hospitals to update daily reporting to include this important information. We expect to begin receiving it in the coming days."

This is a change Brown said he is "happy about."

"I just think it's more honest, we should be as transparent and honest with the public as possible," Brown said. 

Meanwhile, Dr. David Jacobs, Chair of the Ontario Specialists Association and President of the Association of Radiologists, said Wednesday that while hospitals in Brampton are “flooded” with people who have upper respiratory tract infections, they are not turning into the COVID-19 pneumonia seen during previous waves.

"People are feeling sick from Omicron but not having the low oxygen saturations that we’ve seen in the past," Jacobs said during a press briefing. "We do have to recognize that Omicron is impacting vaccinated people much differently than unvaccinated people."

He said occasionally people are getting very sick from Omicron but "those people tend to be unvaccinated."

"We're not getting overwhelmed in the ICU and the ICU is out bottleneck." Top Stories

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